Workplace injuries are a fairly common occurrence in businesses around the country. As recently as 2018, employers reported 2.8 million nonfatal injuries at work. Because workplace injuries can happen at any time, it is important to know and understand what is and isn’t covered by workers’ compensation insurance.
Like many states, Florida requires most companies located within state borders to carry workers’ compensation insurance so that employees can make a claim in the event they incur an injury while on the job.
Depending on the industry, Florida companies with as few as one employee have to purchase a workers’ compensation insurance plan.
As you might expect, workers compensation insurance is designed to cover a variety of different costs that are associated with a workplace injury, including:
- Medical bills
- Lost income
- Job replacement benefits
This, however, is not a comprehensive list, nor is it guaranteed that every claim will cover all of the above costs you might incur as a result of a workplace injury.
Who Can File and When?
To have a valid claim for workers’ compensation benefits, the injury you sustained needs to have occurred while you were at work or performing an essential job-related task. Even if that is the case, there are still a number of circumstances in which you might not be eligible for benefits.
Even if your injury is work-related, your claim for benefits might fail if::
- The injury was the result of you being intoxicated by drugs or alcohol
- The injury was intentional with the hopes of obtaining workers’ compensation benefits
- You failed to follow standard safety procedures as defined by your employer.
If, however, you injured yourself at work and none of the above applies to your situation, you might have a valid claim. In almost every case it is best to report your injury and submit your claim as soon as possible and no later than 30 days after the injury. If you wait more than one month to report your injury, your claim could be denied.
Compensation For Injuries That Don’t Prevent You From Working
In some cases, you may have incurred an injury while at work but are still able to perform your normal job duties and functions. If that is the case, you will most likely be eligible for some of the workers’ compensation benefits such as coverage of medical expenses and those related to medications, but not others such as loss of income or income replacement.
In other situations, you may be entitled to income replacement. Generally speaking, claims and the benefits awarded to those who file them, fall into one of three categories:
- No disability
- Partial disability
- Permanent disability
If the injury you incurred while at work results in no disability you will generally have a much smaller claim than someone who incurs an injury that results in a permanent disability.
What Workers’ Compensation Does Not Cover
While it may come as a surprise, there are a few things workers’ compensation insurance does not cover, such as pain and suffering. Whereas other personal injuries can, and in many cases do, include compensation for non-economic damages, that is not the case when it comes to injuries incurred at work.
If you have experienced significant pain and suffering as a result of an injury incurred at your workplace, there is still the possibility that you could be compensated if another party is also liable.
Additionally, it should be noted that in Florida workers’ compensation insurance does not cover injuries you incurred while on your way to or home from work.
What to Do if Your Employer Doesn’t Have Workers’ Compensation Insurance or if They Refuse to Process Your Claim?
Unfortunately, there are many Florida companies that forego workers’ compensation insurance in an attempt to cut costs and save money. While it is against the law and companies that do so could face serious and costly consequences, it does happen.
If your employer doesn’t have workers’ compensation insurance, they have refused to process your claim in a timely manner, or have threatened to fire you because of your claim, you might be able to sue your employer to receive the benefits you deserve.
Whether you’ve been hurt in a construction accident or in a work-related car accident, you could be entitled to compensation. However, workers’ compensation is an extremely complex area of Florida law as no two cases are identical. While the above information can help give you an idea of where to start, it is likely there is still much to consider regarding your particular situation.
In many cases, the best course of action will be to consult an experienced Miami personal injury attorney who thoroughly understands the complexities of workers’ compensation law.